Kamanita And Vasitthi
[By KARL GJELLERUP]
The Image Of The Buddha
"Well then, Vāsitthī, don't tell me anything more,
but visualise the Tathāgata until you see him as when you
saw him face to face, and it may be that in consequence of
our spiritual fellowship I shall then share your vision."
"Gladly, my friend."
And Vāsitthī recalled the image of the Master as he
was about to enter into Final Nirvāna.
"Do you see him, dear friend?"
"Not yet, Vāsitthī."
"I must make this mind‐picture more tangible,"
And she looked around her in the immeasurable
spaces where the Brahmā world was in process of being
And just as when some great master‐founder, who
has completed the mould of the glorious image of a god
and finds that he hasn't enough metal to fill it, looks
around in his foundry and throws all that lies around him
there — tiny images of gods, figures, vases, and bowls, all
his possessions, the work of his life — gladly and heartily
into the smelting furnace in order that he may be able to
make a perfect cast of this one glorious divine image, so
did Vāsitthī look around herself in immeasurable space,
and all that there was left over of the paling light and
dissolving forms of this Brahmā world she drew by her
spiritual force to herself, thereby emptying the whole of
the cosmos. She cast into the mould of her mind‐picture
this whole mass of astral matter, thus creating a colossal
and radiant image of the Buddha, just as he was about to
enter into Final Nirvāna.
And when she saw this picture opposite her there
arose in her no longing and no sadness.
Even when the great and holy Upagupta, by the
magic art of Māra, the Evil One, saw the form of the
Buddha long after the Blessèd One had passed away,
even he was so filled with longing that he flung himself
adoring at the feet of the deceptive apparition and, over‐
come by grief, wailed — "Damn this pitiless transiency
that dissolves even such glorious forms. For that splendid
body of the Great and Holy One bowed to the law of
change and it too has become a prey to destruction."
But not so Vāsitthī.
Unmoved and self‐possessed, she looked upon the
likeness as an artist upon her work, full of but one thought
— to reveal it to Kāmanīta.
"Now I begin to see a figure," said the latter. "Hold
it fast, make it shine more clearly."
Whereupon Vāsitthī again looked around herself in
space. In the midst of it, despite the fact that the great entity
had expired, there still remained the lurid and angry glow
of the giant star of the Hundred‐thousandfold Brahmā.
And Vāsitthī rent by her spiritual force the spent
astral body of this highest deity from its place and cast it
into the mould of the Buddha likeness, which was imme‐
diately illuminated and vivified, like one who has enjoyed
an invigorating draught.
"Now I see it more distinctly," said Kāmanīta.
And all became still.
Then it seemed to Vāsitthī as though she heard a
clear and golden voice, but she was unsure as to whether
it emanated from the image before her or from the depths
of her innermost heart.
"So you are here, Vāsitthī. Are you finished with
And as one answers in a dream, she responded: "I
am finished with it."
"Even so, Vāsitthī. And the long way has not tired
you? Do you still need the help of the Tathāgata?"
"No, I no longer need the help of the Tathāgata."
"Even so, Vāsitthī. You have sought refuge in
yourself; and do you rest in your self, Vāsitthī?"
"I have learned to know myself. As one unfurls the
sheaf of leaves that make up the trunk of a plantain and
one finds beneath it no sound wood from which anything
firm can be made, so I have learned to know myself: a
body and a mind of changing forms in which there is
nothing eternal, nothing that offers permanence. And so
this 'self' of mine is given up — 'This is not me, this does
not belong to me, this is not my self' is the judgement now
passed upon the question."
"Even so, Vāsitthī. So now you cling firmly only to
"The Teaching has brought me to the Goal. As one
crossing a stream by means of a raft, neither clings to the
raft when she has reached the farther side, nor drags it
along with her, so I no longer cling to the Dharma but let
"Even so, Vāsitthī. Thus, clinging to nothing,
attached to nothing, you will rise again in the Place of
"'That we shall rise again there,' the Tathāgata has
said, is not true of that place, and 'That we shall not rise
again there,' is also not true. And even the teaching that —
'Neither is it true to say that we shall rise again nor yet to
say that we shall not rise again' — even this itself is not
perfectly true. No thing is true any longer — and, least of
all, is nothingness true. Thus there is perfect understand‐
ing at last."
Then, on the face of the Buddha likeness, there
appeared a glowing, scarce‐perceptible smile.
"Now I am able to see the face," said Kāmanīta.
"Like a reflection in flowing water I recognise it vaguely.
Hold it fast — steady it, Vāsitthī."
Vāsitthī looked around her in space.
Space was empty.
Then Vāsitthī flung her own corporeal substance
into the astral mass of the vision.
As Kāmanīta observed that Vāsitthī had suddenly
disappeared, a searing wave of grief shook him to the core
of his being. His heart froze — his senses became stupefied
and numb — but, strangely enough, soon the feeling
passed. For, as one who is dying leaves a legacy, so had
Vāsitthī left to Kāmanīta the Buddha likeness. This alone
remained with him in all of space, and now he clearly
"That old wanderer with whom I spent the night in
Rājagaha and whom I blamed for his foolishness, that was
the Blessèd One! Oh fool that I was! Was there ever a
greater idiot than I?! What I have been longing for as the
highest happiness, as fulfilment itself, that I have already
been in possession of for billions and billions of years."
Then the vision of the Buddha drew near like an
on‐coming cloud and enveloped him in a radiant mist.
**********to be continued***********
Edited by yawares